Plautus’ Casina: The Punishment of raphanidosis and the Reversal of the Wife’s Role


In Casina, Cleostrata threatens to punish her unfaithful husband Lysidamus by raphanidosis. Though she would never actually have had such legal authority in Roman society, in the context of comedy a wronged wife is thus permitted to usurp the male role in punishing adultery. This enables her to exact revenge on her husband, who has spurned her through his infatuation with Casina. Rather than actually suffer raphanidosis, Lysidamus is beaten by his slave Chalinus, and threatened with other future punishments if he relapses. In composing the final scenes of the play, Plautus may have been inspired by mime theatre or Greek texts including Aristophanic comedy.